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Misinterpreted Advertisement Slogans

Misinterpreted Advertisement Slogans – Giving the phrase ‘lost in translation’ a *whole* new meaning

Cracking an international market is a goal of most growing corporations. It shouldn’€™t be that hard, yet even the big multi-nationals run into trouble because of language and cultural differences. For example’€¦

  • The name Coca-Cola in China was first rendered as Ke-kou-ke-la. Unfortunately, the Coke company did not discover until after thousands of signs had been printed that the phrase means ‘€œbite the wax tadpole’€ or ‘€œfemale horse stuffed with wax’€ depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 Chinese characters and found a close phonetic equivalent, ‘€œko-kou-ko-le,’€ which can be loosely translated as ‘€œhappiness in the mouth.’€
  • In Taiwan, the translation of the Pepsi slogan ‘€œCome alive with the Pepsi Generation’€ came out as ‘€œPepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.’€
  • Also in Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan ‘€œfinger- lickin’€™ good’€ came out as ‘€œeat your fingers off.’€
  • The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, ‘€œSalem – Feeling Free,’€ got translated in the Japanese market into ‘€œWhen smoking Salem, you feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty.’€
  • When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in South America, it was apparently unaware that ‘€œno va’€ means ‘€œit won’€™t go.’€ After the company figured out why it wasn’€™t selling any cars, it renamed the car in its Spanish markets to the Caribe.
  • When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to say that ‘€œIt won’€™t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.’€ However, the company’€™s mistakenly thought the spanish word ‘€œembarazar’€ meant embarrass. Instead the ads said that ‘€œIt wont leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.’€
  • An American t-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the spanish market which promoted the Pope’€™s visit. Instead of the desired ‘€œI Saw the Pope’€ in Spanish, the shirts proclaimed ‘€œI Saw the Potato.’€
  • In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into Schweppes Toilet Water.


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